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There is nothing nicer than receiving a gift which someone has taken the trouble to make especially for you.  Here are some ideas which don't take much effort and certainly won't break the bank!

Mouse Mat - Look in the fabric, craft or DIY stores for the colourful 9" x 12" sheets of craft material called "Foamies" or dense foam floor tiles (used for play areas etc.)  These can be used as they are, thinner materials can be glued together or they can be decorated by many different means (your imagination is the only limit).  Shapes can be cut out of one tile and the hole filled with a piece of the same shape cut from a different colour tile.

The original idea was sent in by Tim and Cheryl - but it has endless possibilities.

Bath salts -Take a small glass jar with a cork, or any suitable container that can be sealed, fill with Epsom Salts, add a teaspoon of perfume and seal.  Shake and leave to at least two weeks.  Tie a decorative ribbon on it and then give it to a friend.   Alternatively, it can be given without the perfume but with instructions to add the perfume of their preference.

Contributed by Mrs. Gore

Pomander - Take an orange or lemon and some whole cloves.   Stick the sharp end of the cloves into the orange skin until the orange is completely covered in cloves.  This is fairly time consuming and a bit hard on the fingers.  Secure a ribbon around the orange and create a loop by which to hang it.  This can then be hung in a cupboard or wardrobe to keep clothes smelling lovely.

Spicy scent - Put 4 fl. oz (150ml) of rubbing alcohol (surgical spirit) and 4 tablespoons of whole cloves in a small jar and then add 1 teaspoon of orris root.  Close the jar securely and shake.  Leave to sit for two days, stirring occasionally.  Strain off the liquid, discard the solids and transfer to a clean jar, cover tightly.  To use dab behind the ears or on your wrists.  Store out of the reach of children.

Cologne  -  Pour 8fl oz. (225 ml) rubbing alcohol (surgical spirit) into a screw top jar add 8 tablespoons dried lavender flowers and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.   Cover tightly for two days, shaking occasionally.  Strain and discard the lavender flowers, then add the water and three drops of oil of bergamot. Close tightly.  This makes around 1 pint/570ml - enough for several presents.

Personalised stationery - Buy some plain paper and envelopes and either print each sheet with the recipient's address using a computer or stamp with a motif.  Rubber stamps can be purchased for this purpose or made from potatoes, corks, sponge, wood etc.

Bubble Bath - Mix 16 fl oz (450 ml) liquid soap, together with 16fl,. oz (450ml) inexpensive shampoo (or mild washing up liquid), 2 fl. oz. (60ml) glycerine and a few drops of scented oil or perfume.   Transfer the bubbly mixture into a suitable attractive container.  About 8fl. oz (225ml) should be added to a bathful of water.

Clock - Make good use of those unwanted CDs.  Buy a clock kit (these can be purchased from hobby shops and are very reasonably priced). insert this into the central hole, place hands on the front and, hey presto, you have a clock. These can be personalised in many ways with photographs, magazine pictures, stickers etc. etc. A present any teenager would welcome.

Marzipan strawberries  -   Cut a 226 g. (8oz) packet of marzipan into small pieces.  Make each piece the size you want the strawberry to be.  Roll each piece into a ball between your hands and shape into a strawberry.  Make a hole in the top for the leaf.  Dip each strawberry first into red food colouring, then into sugar making sure it is completely covered.  Leave to dry.  Trace the strawberry leaf (a seven pronged star) on to a fairly stiff green paper, insert one of the "prongs" of the star shape into the hole in the strawberry. Alternatively, the leaves can be made of marzipan rolled out thinly and cut into leave shapes then dipped into green food colouring. Place sweets into an attractive airtight container such as a screw top jar.



100 g. Digestive biscuits

175 g. Chocolate (any kind)

50 g. softened butter

50 g. icing sugar (powdered sugar)

Cocoa for coating.


Put biscuits into a plastic bag and crush using a rolling pin or something similar.

Put chocolate into bowl and melt either over hot water or in microwave.

Add the sifted icing sugar, softened butter and biscuits to the chocolate mixture and mix well.

Place in refrigerator for ten minutes to chill.

Take about a teaspoon of this mixture and form into a ball shape.

Roll into some cocoa powder and ensure completely covered.


Wax disc mobile  - You will need odd bits of different coloured candles, a glass of water, matches, needle and thread.   Fill a glass with water, light a candle, tip it sideways letting the hot wax drip onto the surface of the water in the glass, it will set as it falls into the water. BE CAREFUL TO KEEP YOUR HAIR OUT OF THE WAY OF THE FLAME AND ALSO DON'T TOUCH THE HOT WAX.   Keep dripping the wax onto the water, changing the colour of the candle as you go.   When the whole surface of the water is covered, tip the water and wax disc gently out of the glass.  Thread the needle, warm the tip in the candle flame and push it through the wax disc.  Tie a knot in the cotton and hang the disc up against the light.  Repeat this several times and hang the threads from a coat hanger or suitable holder to make a mobile.

Marzipan dates - You will need a 226g (8oz) packet of marzipan, a box of dates, almonds and green food colouring.   Cut a straight slit in each date and remove the stone.  Replace the stone with a slightly bigger rolled piece of marzipan.  Put the almonds in very hot water, then remove the skin.  Dip the almonds in green food colouring.  Leave them to dry.   Then push one almond into each marzipan date.  Replace them into the date box which can be decorated by painting or covering with paper.

Drip-Dry Coat Hanger - You will need a wooden coat hanger, seven clothes pegs, a drill, string, enamel paint, brush and white spirit.   Measure the hanger and mark holes equally spaced about every 2 - 3 inches from the centre, along the wooden hanger,  in pencil.  Drill holes with a No. 8 drill.   Paint the hanger with two coats of paint.  Leave to dry.  Tie a knot in the string, thread it through the first hole, then through the clothes peg, back through the next hole, then next clothes peg and so on until the string has been threaded loosely through every hole with a clothes peg in between.  Finish with a knot at the other end.  The pegs can then be used for drip drying small articles of clothing.

Tray Tidy - You will need a large wooden curtain ring or round handbag handle, scissors, needle, thread, strong ribbon (1m (3ft) long x 4.5cm (2ins) wide).  Cut ribbon in half, put first piece of ribbon through the ring and sew the ends together to make a loop.  Do the same with the second piece of ribbon.   Tack the loops together just under the ring and slightly overlappying each other (forming a "V" shape).  The tray tidy is then hung by the ring and the trays slotted between the ribbon loops.


If you are feeling really ambitious visit it will show you how to make some fascinating things, from woodworking to papercraft and from simple ideas to challenging undertakings.




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